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Retail: Consumers Take to Webrooming Over Showrooming

Retailers are constantly trying to meld the brick and click worlds into one seamless omnichannel experience, and while many have been concerned about the concept of showrooming, but the new notion of ‘webrooming’ has been shifting business back to physical stores.

Showrooming is the practice of visiting a store to check out a product before ultimately buying it online.

Webrooming is the exact opposite. Customers do their research online first, and then head in to stores to purchase products.

In a recent report titled, “A Retailer’s Guide to Webrooming,” business payment solutions firm Merchant Warehouse found that the change toward reverse-showrooming is giving brick-and-mortar stores a leg up in the fight against e-commerce.

The study found that browsing online and buying in stores has started to trump showrooming. Nearly 75 percent of male shoppers webroom, while a lower 53 percent opted to showroom. Women’s shopping habits were similar with 63 percent making web purchases after online searches compared to 40 percent doing the opposite.

Around 70 percent of consumers between ages 18 and 67 webroom. Showrooming within this age group was a lower 50 percent among shoppers age 18 to 48, and 44 percent among those ages 49 to 67.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers can capitalize on this growing trend by focusing on what motivates consumers to choose webrooming in the first place. When shoppers were asked why they would search for items online prior to making a store purchase, the responses varied,” the report noted.

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Roughly 47 percent of shoppers said they chose webrooming to avoid shipping costs, 23 percent sought instant gratification and didn’t want to wait for items to be delivered, and 42 percent wanted to check product availability.

Retailers can easily capitalize on these concerns by offering online order forms, allowing in-store pick-up and providing product availability information. “Offering savings or coupons to consumers who browse the website but make in-store purchases may expand the actual customer base as well. Retailers should also provide alerts regarding last-chance purchases and inventory restock,” according to the report.

For today’s consumer, it’s all about stress-free, seamless shopping and the reasons cited by those surveyed for choosing web searches and in-store buys were centered around that desire for simplicity. Close to 37 percent said they would choose webrooming because it’s easier to return a product to a store, and 46 percent said they prefer the tactile experience of purchasing an item before buying it.

“Capitalizing on these factors requires an overall awareness of the entire product and shopping experience. Offering hassle-free returns for any online or store purchase is a good beginning. It may be useful to encourage product testing and offer authoritative advice helping customers find the best items. Retailers should also match online prices and offer free Wi-Fi as an incentive so that customers can research costs on-site,” the report said.

To keep up with webroomers, retailers will have to bring some of the best elements of online buying into stores. Offering consumers access to up-to-date product reviews in stores and training staff members to be well-versed on item details and information will pay off in increased sales. “When asked, nearly half of the consumers agreed that a well-informed sales associate would be a primary motivation for making a purchase in the store,” the report noted.

The trend toward Internet-buying has certainly altered traffic at physical stores, but the Merchant Warehouse report said as long as retailers can upgrade the in-store shopping experience, it’s not too late to turn things around.

A Retailers Guide to Webrooming | Merchant Warehouse